People make mistakes, that’s a given, but it’s also an occasion for people learn from others mistakes so that they don’t have to. Here’s 5 blunders I made when starting photography that might be useful to you.
(In no particular order)
1) Thinking the money was going to be easy
After picking up the camera and developed my photographic sense, it came to me that I could make money from this easy: Put up your website and get money. This idea was strengthen by photography books, courses and websites that have an overenthusiastic, simplistic view of photography business. It’s not easy, everybody wants to do it and I am still paying biterly for my foolishness to this day. Business is hard and competitive, jumping in cold turkey is foolish, and not everybody makes it….you never hear about those do you? By the way have you noticed how many of these photographic prosperity advocates actually make money with their camera and not their teaching?
Lesson learned: Making it requires time and hard work, be enthusiast not foolish, don’t quit your day job.
Remedial: Pray, read business books like kool aid, network and PLAN ahead.
2) Getting a DSLR
This goes against the grain, I know… but if I could I would swap my DSLR with a Manual point and shoot as my camera. The reason for this is that the camera boosted my ego, not my eye, and to tell you the truth my first camera was an impulse buy. That DSLR made me too dependent upon it, I believed I was a photographer because of it, not because I could do something with it. Before I bought it it’s like I could not be a photographer without it, when I did it’s as if I could finally be a photographer….nonsense but that’s how I felt back then. I spent too much time dreaming of what I could do with the camera and not enough actually learning something. I’d like to tell my younger self: It’s all about the image stupid!
Lesson learned: A piano does not make you a pianist, a camera does not make you a photographer.
Remedial: My main camera is a wimpy P&S!!!
3) Relying on large apertures
When I first heard of aperture priority I felt like I stumbled on the secret of photography: The shallow depth of field. It’s like I could tackle everything because I could put my lens at 1.8. I made the same types of pictures over and over again and never learned anything because my lens was stuck on 1.8. I even believed I was a pro because I understood how aperture priority works. Imagine my surprise when a teacher friend told me that photos were “coming along”…Nice way to put it because most of my stuff were simplistic frames at 1.8: A tree, a bird, etc.
Lesson learned: Blurry backgrounds…big deal…move on.
Remedial: Stopped thinking “1.8 and shoot” and focused on making the subject and background fit meaningfully in the frame.
As you can guess, having a pro looking camera that can blur backgrounds stroke my ego. I grossly overestimated my skills and that resulted in stagnation, I didn’t move forward at all. Photography is a life long journey, but I stopped in the first few steps because I believed I was really good. Having a few incredible, sporadic shots stroked my ego to the max, they rendered me unteachable. No one is more closed than the one who believes that they know everything. I was ignorant, I believed I was a pro. I was a fool.
Lesson learned: You don’t know everything, always be teachable, photography is a journey.
Remedial: I’m a dedicated life long learner
5) Being too stiff
When I just started everything had to be sharp, sharp, sharp and everything in the frame had to be spot on. My pictures were too focused on the superficial and not the soul of the photograph. I had a very specific idea of what photography was and I did not budge from it. I use to cringe at soft photographs and especially blown highlights. A good thing for me was looking at famous photographs. The most famous photographs are far from being technically perfect and are loose in their framing…they have soul and character more than form. Form is just one part of the photograph just like your body is just one part of you.
Lesson leaned: Stop focusing on how the photograph looks and more on it’s soul, it’s character…how it makes you feel.
Remedial: Stopped focus peeping, highlight peeping, pixel peeping